Bid to trace family of fallen Northampton WWI soldier whose body may have finally been recovered

The MoD is trying to trace the family of Private Thomas Parker, who died just weeks before the end of the Great War and whose body was never recovered.
The MoD is trying to trace the family of Private Thomas Parker, who died just weeks before the end of the Great War and whose body was never recovered.

A bid has been launched to find the family of a fallen Northampton First World War soldier who was never given a military burial.

Ministry of Defence officials launched an appeal to find the descendants of Private Thomas Parker, who served in the First Battalion of the Middlesex Regiment during the Great War.

Years of research has concluded that the father of three's remains may have only recently discovered in a field near Villers Guislain in France.

In 2014, a farmer discovered two bodies there - in an area where the Battle of St Quentin Canal was fought between September 29 and October 2, 1918.

There are only four soldiers from 1st Battalion Middlesex Regiment who were killed between those dates and still have no known grave, leading the MoD to conclude that Private Parker's body may be one of the two found.

Now, the MOD’s Joint Casualty and Compassionate Centre (JCCC), has launched an appeal for families of all four of the potential casualties to take a DNA test in order to confirm the identity of the two fallen soldiers.

Louise Dorr from the JCCC said: “It’s especially poignant that these men died just a few weeks before the end of the Great War. Their deaths would have devastated their families, who probably carried that grief all their lives, especially as they had no grave to visit. Please help us to bring these individuals’ stories to an end.”

If a positive identification can be made, Private Parker will be buried with full military honours later this year or early next with a grave bearing his name.

He was born in 1885 in Stafford, one of the 11 children of Thomas and Mary Ann Parker.

He had four brothers - Albert, Wilfred, Frederick and Ernest - and six sisters - Selina, Minnie, Mary, Emily, May and Gladys.

He married Emily Orgill in Leicester in June 1912, but when Thomas joined the Army in 1915, they were living at 31 Talbot Road in Northampton.

At the time of Thomas’ death, his widow, Emily, had moved back to Leicestershire and was living in Ravenstone Road, Coalville.

Thomas and Emily did not have any children and it is not thought as if the majority of Thomas’ siblings married or had any children either.

The exception seems to be his eldest brother, Albert, who married Georgina Yates and had three children, Doris, Ethel and Frederick. By 1939, Albert was living alone in Stone Road, Stafford.

Mrs Dorr continued: "I would really love to hear from anybody who is related to Albert Parker or his children, Doris, Ethel and Frederick. They may have married and had their own families. The Parker family have connections to Staffordshire, Leicestershire and Northamptonshire”.